William Walker

Self-educated founder and leader of the Independent Labour Party in Belfast. The self educated founder and leader of the Independent Labour Party in Belfast, William Walker (1871 – 1918) was a stalwart of Belfast’s speaker’s corner on the steps of the Custom House. The self educated founder and leader of the Independent Labour Party in Belfast, William Walker (1871 – 1918) was a stalwart of Belfast’s speaker’s corner on the steps of Custom House Square. His unique version of socialism and unionism became known as ‘Walkerism’.

The self educated founder and leader of the Independent Labour Party in Belfast, William Walker was a stalwart of Belfast’s speaker’s corner on the steps of the Custom House. His unique version of socialism and unionism became known as ‘Walkerism’. Born in 1871, the son of a shipyard worker, Walker was apprenticed as a joiner in Harland and Wolff. He began his career in the Labour movement as a member of the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners. Sitting on the British Trades Council, Walker was also President of the Irish Trades Union Council and an executive member of the British Labour Party.

Walker saw himself as a socialist, but fought with James Connolly over the issue of Irish independence. This conflict in the Irish socialist movement was to hamper Walker’s attempt to gain the North Belfast Westminster seat in 1905. He was never able to unite his catholic and protestant voters in large enough numbers to defeat the established parties. Walker stood again unsuccessfully in 1907 and 1910.

William Walker died in 1918.

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